Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Crossman Papers, 1855-1875

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2009

Summary Information
Title: Crossman papers
Creator: Crossman, Adelaide Isham
Inclusive dates: 1855-1875
Extent: 99 items
The Crossman papers contain correspondence between Ferdinand Crossman, Union solder, and his wife, Adelaide, between 1862 and 1864. The letters describe army life, fighting, military duties, pay, food, clothes, health, and personal news. Adelaide also received letters from her sister and friends that concern family life in Massachusetts.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1997. M-3337.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Crossman Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection contains two series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Receipts and Tax Documents

Both series are organized chronologically, with undated items filed at the end.


Ferdinand Joseph Fuller Crossman, son of Martin Luther and Experience Robbins Crossman, was born in 1834 and raised by his paternal grandfather in Sutton, Massachusetts. He enlisted at Cambridge in the First Company of Sharpshooters, known as the "Andrew Sharpshooters," which was attached to the 15th Massachusetts Infantry in August 1862. He didn't see action until the first battle at Fredericksburg in the winter of 1862. He was wounded at the second battle at Fredericksburg in the spring of 1863, when one of his fingers was shattered by a bullet. He narrowly escaped serious injury at Gettysburg, but his health quickly deteriorated from exhaustion and exposure; he was hospitalized, first at Harper's Ferry, and later at the Armory Hospital in Washington, D.C. He re-joined the army at the Battle of the Wilderness (May 3-7, 1864), and was captured at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. He died of disease on August 9, 1864, at the Andersonville, Georgia, prison.

Adelaide Isham Crossman was born to Franklin H. and Rebecca Isham on March 17, 1837, in Massachusetts. She lived in St. George, Vermont, and moved to Whitinsville, Massachusetts, in 1855, after marrying Ferdinand Crossman. After Ferdinand's death, Adelaide married Frederick Phineas Burr, another Union soldier, in 1866; they had one daughter, Ida R., in 1870.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Crossman papers are comprised of 95 letters and 4 tax documents.

The Correspondence series contains approximately 60 letters from Ferdinand while he was in the army, from 1862-1864. In his letters, Ferdinand inquired about Adelaide's day-to-day activities, and described his own in the army. Many letters mentioned their children, though not by name. He wrote about army life, fighting, military duties, pay, food, clothes, health, and personal news. In a letter dated May 15, 1863, Ferdinand refuted inaccurate news from Adelaide that the Union Army had taken Richmond. In one of his final letters, that of April 18, 1864, Crossman wrote that he sensed a major battle brewing and predicted that he might not make it home again, and that Adelaide should do her best to get on with her life, if he should die. Crossman would die of disease on August 9, 1864, at the Andersonville, Georgia, prison.

The rest of the letters are to Adelaide from her sister and friends. These concern daily life in Massachusetts, as well as family and personal news such as marriage, children, health, and death.

The Receipts and Tax Document series contains a 1859 tax record and three receipts for subscriptions to the True Flag weekly newspaper.

Subject Terms

    • Andersonville Prison.
    • Armory Square Hospital (Washington, D.C.)
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862.
    • Fredericksburg (Va.)--History—Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Massachusetts--Social life and customs.
    • Soldiers--Massachusetts.
    • United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 15th (1861-1864)
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States. Army. Sharpshooters Regiment, 1st (1861-1864)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • Brown, Cornelia.
    • Burdon, Jennie.
    • Crossman, Ferdinand, 1834-1864.
    • Crossman, Laura.
    • Crossman, Susan.
    • Isham, Daniel.
    • Isham, Jane.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Tax records.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   96, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Correspondence [series]
    Folder   1  
     February 21, 1855-December 20, 1862
    Folder   2  
     February 26-April 30, 1863
    Folder   3  
     May 5-26, 1863
    Folder   4  
     June 2-July 27, 1863
    Folder   5  
     August 1-October 25, 1863
    Folder   6  
     December 6, 1863-January 20, 1864
    Folder   7  
     February 3-April 1, 1864
    Folder   8  
     April 10, 1864-Janary 3, 1875, and  undated
    Receipts and Tax Document [series]
    Box   96, Schoff Civil War Collection Folder   9